2005 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Jackson (15th)
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE AND DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO ISSUE RULES AND REGULATIONS ASSURING ACADEMIC FREEDOM BY REQUIRING THE TEACHING AND PRESENTATION OF SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISM IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IF THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION IS TAUGHT; TO ESTABLISH GUIDELINES FOR CURRICULA THEREFOR; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, it appears that most, if not all, state-supported educational institutions require students to take courses in which naturalistic concepts of evolution are taught as scientific explanations of origins of the universe, life and man; and
WHEREAS, evolution is not demonstrable as scientific fact or testable as a scientific hypothesis and, therefore, must be accepted philosophically by faith; and
WHEREAS, there is another concept of origins - namely, that of special creation of the universe, life and man by an omnipotent personal Creator - which is at least as satisfactory a scientific explanation of origins as is evolution and is accepted as such by a large number of scientists and other well-informed people; and
WHEREAS, many citizens of this state believe in the special creation concept of origins and are convinced that exclusive indoctrination of their children in the evolutionary concept is inimical to their religious faith and to their moral and civic teachings, as well as to scientific objectivity, academic freedom and civil rights; and
WHEREAS, even a number of citizens who are not opposed to the evolution concept at least favor a balanced treatment of these two (2) alternative views or origins in the schools, thus allowing students to consider all of the evidences favoring each concept before deciding which to believe; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the state may not establish a religion of secularism in the sense of affirmatively opposing religion, stating that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of a theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma; NOW THEREFORE,
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. As used in this act:
(a) "Theory of evolution" shall mean the belief that present processes, acting essentially as at present, suffice to explain the past history of the cosmos, including its assumed evolutionary development from primeval chaos into its present form. The origin and development of the elements, the galaxy, the solar system, of life, of all the species of plants and animals, the origin of man, and the origin of all things are included in this cosmology. Matter or energy, or both, in some form are assumed to be eternal, so that there has never been any real creation of anything ex nihilo, as used in this definition.
(b) "Scientific creationism" shall mean the belief, based upon scientific principles, that there was a time in the past when all matter, energy and life, and their processes and relationships, were created ex nihilo and fixed by creative and intelligent design.
SECTION 2. Public schools within this state shall give balanced treatment to the theory of scientific creationism and the theory of evolution. Balanced treatment of these two (2) theories shall be given (a) in classroom lectures taken as a whole for each course, (b) in textbook materials taken as a whole for each course, (c) in library materials taken as a whole for any field of the sciences on humanities, and (d) in other educational programs, to the extent that such lectures, textbooks, library materials or educational programs deal in any way with the subject of the origin of man, life, the earth or the universe.
SECTION 3. Treatment of either the theory of evolution or the theory of scientific creationism shall be limited to scientific evidence for each theory and inferences from such scientific evidence and shall not include religious instruction.
SECTION 4. Public schools within the state, or their personnel, shall not discriminate, by reducing a grade or by singling out and criticizing publicly, against any student who demonstrates a satisfactory understanding of both the theory of evolution and the theory of scientific creationism and who also accepts or rejects either theory in whole or in part.
SECTION 5. This act does not require a permit or instruction in any religious doctrine or materials. This act does not require any instruction in the subject of origins, but requires instruction in scientific theories of both evolution and scientific creationism if public schools choose to teach either. This act does not require each individual textbook or library book to give balanced treatment to the theories of evolution and scientific creationism, and it does not require any school books to be discarded. This act does not require each individual classroom lecture in a course to give such balanced treatment, but simply requires the lectures as a whole to give balanced treatment; it permits one (1) unit to present the theory of evolution and another unit to present the theory of scientific creationism. This act does not affect university level instruction but applies only to public secondary and elementary schools.
SECTION 6. The State Board of Education is hereby authorized and directed to promulgate rules and regulations which provide that in all public elementary and secondary schools a balanced treatment of evolution and scientific creationism is included in all courses, textbooks and library materials dealing in any manner with the subject of origins, such treatment to be limited to the scientific rather than religious aspects of the two (2) concepts. The board shall establish curricula guidelines for public schools consistent with the provisions of this act.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.